Azkals eye revenge vs Timor Leste

Originally published by Daily Tribune

The national U23 football team eyes revenge when it takes on Timor Leste at the start of the Asian Football Federation U23 Championship at the Morodok Techo National Stadium in Cambodia on Monday.

Kickoff is at 5 p.m. (Manila time) with the young Azkals gunning for a strong start in the regional youth event that serves as part of their preparations for the 31st Southeast Asian Games in May.

National team head coach Stewart Hall said his wards have wrapped up their three-week preparation and are now eager to lock horns against a familiar contender on the international pitch.

The Philippines and Timor Leste are bunched in Group A with host Cambodia and Brunei.

The last time both sides squared off was when the Timoreses dealt the Filipinos a stinging 0-1 loss that left the Nationals winless in their AFC Asian Cup qualification campaign in October.

“Obviously, we know Timor Leste. Our boys played with them in Singapore and I also saw their team in the Suzuki Cup,” Hall said in a pre-tournament press conference.

“I’ve seen them, some of the players have seen them. It will be a very hard game, but it’s a good game for us to start with.”

Coming off a three-week camp in Binan and Phnom Penh, the youth-laden squad will feature holdovers like Dennis Chung, Oliver Bias, Oskari Kekkoken, Sandro Reyes and goalkeeper Quincy Kameraad.

The team also welcomed the addition of other Philippine Football League youngsters like Kieran Hayes and Pocholo Bugas of United City FC, Gyles Lucas Encabo, Jayvee Kallukaran and Griffin McDaniel of Stallion Laguna FC and Jessie Semblante and Mariano Suba of Mendiola FC.

But pulling the rug from under Timor Leste will not be easy.

The Fabio Magrao-mentored U23 side is deemed as one of the more experienced teams as the very squad saw action against tougher senior squads in the AFF Suzuki Cup in December.

The Timoreses are expected to parade a lethal firepower led by strikers Paulo Gali, Mouzinho de Lima and Nelson Viegas.

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